Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Scorpions continue to fall apart; lose to Saguaros again, 9-7

After getting blown by the Saguaros yesterday in Scottsdale, the Scorpions traveled to Surprise tonight for the second game of a home-and-home between the two teams. Unfortunetally, this one, though much better yesterday's, was still still a loss, as the Scorps were out-scored 9-7. Like I said yesterday, these last few games of the year don't matter for the Scorpions, but winning would still be cool. Even just one win at this point would be worth celebrating. 

In this one, Yankees hitters Mason Williams and Peter O'Brien both struggled at the plate, as O'Brien went 1-for-5 with 2 RBIs while Williams went 0-for-5 with 2 strikeouts. Besides them, reliever James Pazos also appeared in this loss, pitching two scoreless innings of relief. I wish I could say that's good, but in a five game losing streak nothing seems productive. 

Cashman:Yankees Plan To Tender Contract To Cervelli

The New York Yankees and Brian Cashman reportedly plan to tender a contract to Francisco Cervelli for the 2014 season after losing 50 games due to a steroid suspension. Cervelli was one of the players linked to the Biogenesis fall out and missed much of the 2013 season due to a broken hand, the steroid suspension, and a stress fracture in his arm.

This is interesting as the Yankees would have four catchers on their 40 man roster before they add Gary Sanchez to be protected by the Rule 5 draft so this cannot be good news for Chris Stewart or Austin Romine. Cervelli is only expected to earn about $1,000,000 in arbitration this season so that may be the end of the discussion right there but either way I believe Cervelli can build on his 2013 season, the healthy part of it, and be a decent catcher for us so I am glad to be reporting this news.

Francona & Hurdle Win Managers of the Year

The awards continue to be given out this week by the Baseball Writers Association of American and tonight we saw the Managers of the Year Awards handed down. Terry Francona won the award with the Cleveland Indians for the American League which is something I did not see coming. Boston's manager John Farrell guided his team from worst to first and won the World Series in his first year as the Red Sox manager which is usually enough to win these types of awards. Yankees manager Joe Girardi finished in fourth place which is kind of a disgrace if you ask me. Clint Hurdle won the award in the National League after guiding the Pittsburgh Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in what feels like 86 years.

Congratulations to both men and their organizations on the awards.

MLB & NPB Almost Have Agreement On Posting Systm

Major League Baseball and the Nippon Professional Baseball league have been talking new rules for the Japanese posting system and they have virtually agreed on a new deal. The new deal could be announced as early as today just in time for the Rakuten Golden Eagles to post Masahiro Tanaka. There is no way the Tanaka bidding will happen before these new rules are in place so all eyes are on this announcement being made relatively soon.

We have heard that the changes to the system would include the top three teams being announced to the player, Tanaka in this case, and the player would choose the winner but that does not seem to be the case. The biggest major change that is being reported right now is that the biggest bidder will win exclusive rights to negotiate with the player but will only have to pay an average of the posting fee between the two highest bids. For example if the Yankees bid $100 million and the Dodgers bid $50 million the Yankees would only have to pay $75 million to talk to Tanaka.

There has also been talks of teams having to pay a percentage of the posting fee if they fail to sign a player in hopes of deterring teams that just bid just to block rival teams. I do not see this being an issue with Tanaka but it is interesting to watch for if it does occur. Whatever the new rules are we need to get this agreed upon, written up, and announced so the Yankees can win this thing.

Yankees Will Play In Panama In March

Mariano Rivera asked for it and Mo gets what Mo wants apparently as the New York Yankees will be traveling to Panama to play an exhibition game in March. Panama is the home country of their retiring All Star closer and will host the Yankees in a Spring Training tune up game on both March 15th and 16th of 2014. The Marlins will be the team we are playing while down there as this is happening but I have a feeling more of the attention will be on the Yankees and Mariano and less on who we are playing or what the score is.

The Growing Number Of Women Baseball Fans

*Note- The following is an article I wrote on March 14th, 2012 for Yankee Fans Unite, the previous site for which some of us now with The Greedy Pinstripes used to write for before we merged.  "Fangirls" existed long before Twitter.

It is now estimated that women make up forty-six percent of baseball’s fan base and that percentage is growing every day. That’s the largest percentage of women in a major sport’s fan base in the United States. That number is up from thirty-seven percent of women who were included in baseball’s fan base just ten years ago.   When I first joined Twitter, one of the things that soon became clear to me were the incredible number of female Yankee fans.  These aren’t women who just cheer for the cute players. They’re intense, they’re passionate, they watch every game, and they know what they’re talking about. Suzyn Waldman sure isn’t the only woman screaming every time the Yankees play.
The trend of increased participation in baseball’s fan base was further exemplified just a few days ago when MLB announced that two women had been chosen to participate in the “Fan Cave” promotion.   http://espn.go.com/espnw/more-sports/7652717/nine-female-contestants-vying-part-mlb-fan-cave
In January, the Yankees held their second annual women’s fantasy camp in Tampa Bay. Ninety-one women paid close to two thousand dollars to live a three-day dream of playing baseball while being instructed by such former Yankee stars as Tino Martinez and Darryl Strawberry.  http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/nyy/fan_forum/fantasycamp_women.jsp

I’m not sure why baseball has more appeal to women than the other major sports in this country. Whether it’s the lack of violence or the intellectual nature of the game, women have embraced baseball in larger numbers than ever before.  As baseball has slipped further behind the NFL in the television ratings, hope is not lost that baseball can rally and can close the gap.  If baseball does close the gap in the ratings, the rapidly growing number of women in baseball’s fan base will lead the way.  While many people have found the increased interest in baseball by women surprising, I’m not surprised at all.  I had the privilege of knowing one of the greatest Yankee fans of all time, and she was a woman.
In my last article about spring training, I spoke of the education about baseball that my grandfather William Shepardson had given me in my first twelve years on this planet.  At 1:15 A.M. on this past Saturday morning, his wife Adele Shepardson, went to join him.
My grandmother was many things while she was here.  She was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother.  In addition to helping my grandfather operate his business, she was also a business owner of her own before it was common for women to own businesses.  She was the first person to take me to the Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown.  When I was eight years old, my idol was Thurman Munson.  I was about to enter the first rung of little league baseball and hatched a plan.  I surmised that if I showed up for the first practice with a catcher’s mitt that I would get to play the position.  My grandmother bought me a catcher’s mitt, and I got to play the position.
For the last thirty-one years and three days of her life on this planet my grandmother was a widow.  When you say it out loud, thirty-one years and three days, it sure seems like a long time to walk the earth without a cherished partner.  In that period of her life she devoted herself tirelessly to family, friends, and faith to try to fill the tremendous void that her husband’s passing had left in her life. Fortunately for her, my grandfather left her a tremendous gift that helped her pass those thirty-one years and three days without him.   He left her the gift of being a Yankee fan.
When my grandmother was a very little girl, her father left her family in an age when that sort of thing was considered scandalous and stigmatizing. With her two sisters and mother, she moved in with her grandparents. In a household dominated by women, what she knew about sports could probably have been written on the back of a postage stamp with some room left over.  That would change when she met and married the oldest of seven boys in a family where sports dominated life itself.  In the family she married into, if the boys weren’t playing sports they were talking about them, listening to them, or watching them. It was a Yankee family through and through. When my grandparents became one of the first families in town to own a television, dozens of men would come over to watch the Yankees every time they were broadcast.  My grandmother had two choices.  Since she sure wasn’t going to beat them, she joined them. In an era where far fewer women were baseball fans than in today’s age, she began a romance with the New York Yankees that lasted the rest of her life.  She was ahead of her time.

The fondest baseball memory I have with my grandmother occurred on October 2nd, 1978.  After a wild summer where the Yankees looked hopelessly beaten in the AL East, they had rallied from 14 1/2 games out of first place to take the lead in the AL East in September.  The Red Sox refused to go quietly though, and rallied back to finish in a tie with the Yankees and force a one game playoff.  At the age of nine, I sat in the front parlor of my grandparents home with my grandfather and we agonized over every pitch.  My grandmother was too nervous to sit still, and would walk in and out of the room.
Trailing by two runs in the seventh inning, my grandfather and I let out a collective groan when Jim Spencer flied out with Chris Chambliss on second base and Roy White on first.  There were now two outs and coming to the plate was the light hitting Bucky Dent.  Bucky Dent just happened to be my grandmother’s favorite player on that Yankee team.  So when I said to my grandfather “Oh no, we have no chance now, Bucky Dent is up” and he made a sour face my grandmother scolded us both.  She  said “You’ll see!! my Bucky will do it!”   As the famous home run cleared the Green Monster, my grandmother erupted.  She danced around the room, screaming over and over again “He did it!!” as my grandfather and I smiled sheepishly at each other and at her.  She took me out to dinner after the game.  As I sat across from her eating pizza, she proudly declared to the other Yankee fans who stopped by the table to say hello that HER Bucky had won the game.

The joy that the Yankees brought my grandmother was immeasurable.  Even in the dark times that followed that 1978 World Series win, she’d watch every game, often keeping score.  In 1995 she saw a young shortstop play a few games with the Yankees. She declared he was going to be her new favorite player and would lead the Yankees back to the top some day.  His name was Derek Jeter, and the next year she proudly proclaimed that the player she had declared as “hers” had done just what she said he’d do.  She enjoyed those dynasty years with great pride and enthusiasm.  She was heartbroken when Joe Torre left, and she exulted when the Yankees would win it all again in 2009.
For over sixty years my grandmother knew the greatest joy of all, and that was being a Yankee fan. She wouldn’t have traded it for anything.  I don’t know exactly how many games she watched in her lifetime but I can estimate that my grandmother viewed over five thousand Yankee games after my grandfather left her.  The quality of her life wouldn’t have been the same without her love of baseball and the Yankees.
So this year,  everyone should make it a point to try to introduce at least one woman to baseball.  You might be giving someone a gift that will last them a lifetime.

All Home Grown Yankees Team - The Bullpen

Continuing our look at the Yankees all home grown team using players from our system over the last 20 years or so we will look at the bullpen pitchers today. The Yankees have had a plethora of home grown arms that have hit the system in recent memory so this was one of the toughest categories to fill out. Spoiler alert but I want to give honorable mentions right now to a few that I felt could have made the list but didn't in Adam Warren, Mike Dunn, and even John Axford who spent a few years in the Yankees system before finding success elsewhere. Enjoy!

CL: Mariano Rivera
RP: David Robertson
RP: Phil Coke
RP: Randy Choate
RP: Tyler Clippard
RP: Mark Melancon
LR: Ramiro Mendoza

Mariano Rivera and David Robertson have been staples in the Yankees bullpen since what feels like forever ago. Mariano has been around forever after a failed starting pitcher attempt in 1995 Mo has been shutting down guys in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings since 1996. The MLB all time leading saves leader and the greatest of all time, what else needs to be said. D Rob seems to be the new heir apparent to Mo after his retirement this season. D Rob has been a staple since the Yankees won the 2009 World Series and looks to be a staple for a long long time in the Yankees pen.

Randy Choate and Phil Coke have both enjoyed success in the major leagues throwing from the left side after leaving the Yankees. Choate was traded to the Montreal Expos for Javier Vazquez (the first time) and has spent time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami and Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the St. Louis Cardinals. Phil Coke has killed the Yankees, and a lot of teams, since being in the deal that brought the Yankees Curtis Granderson and sent Coke packing to Detroit. Coke especially killed us during the 2012 ALCS where the Tigers swept us after Coke was un-hittable in the closers role.

Tyler Clippard has enjoyed a few good seasons in Washington after being traded to the Nationals for Johnathan Albaladejo, remember him? Clippard has closed and been a set up man in Washington and while he has had more success in the latter role has enjoyed success in both roles. Former Yankees #1 prospect before a man named Phil Hughes came around.

Mark Melancon was once touted the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera before Joe Girardi ruined his arm, trade value, and reputation. Melancon would come up once a month, sit on the bench for two weeks, and struggle due to rust when he was used out of desperation. He was later traded to the Houston Astros and is now a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates where he was elected to the 2013 MLB All Star Game.

Ramiro Mendoza could do anything and everything for the Yankees after coming out of their farm system. Mendoza could start, set up, be a long man, or close and did all four well. If it weren't for Orlando Hernandez in 1999 I think Mendoza would have been the 99 ALCS MVP after shutting down the Red Sox in the middle of a rally in games two and game five. Mendoza also closed out the series in Fenway Park rather than Mariano Rivera, a tribute for Joe Torre to Mendoza in my opinion.

Get Down Off That Ledge

Curtis Granderson declined to accept a 14.1 million dollar qualifying offer yesterday, officially making him a free agent and in all probability ending his time with the New York Yankees (until he is old and washed up and Brian Cashman signs him to a one-year deal to replace another old and washed up player who is injured).
Granderson was a very popular player with many fans who are upset about his exit. Tweets of gloom, doom, sorrow, and disappointment have abounded since yesterday afternoon.   While I understand that a player with the power and character both on and off the field that Granderson possesses will be popular with fans, it really is in the best interests of the Yankees to let Granderson go and pursue other options.
Curtis Granderson will turn 33 years old in March and is seeking an expensive multiyear deal.  Using an aggregate of what former Yankee Nick Swisher(4 years, 56 million dollars) and Michael Bourne(4 years, 48 million dollars)got last year as free agents it is reasonable to expect that Granderson will be seeking somewhere in the neighborhood of 52 million dollars over 4 years. Granderson will probably get such a deal, perhaps without even having to change his home address.  The Mets have been rumored to have interest in Granderson, who has been outspoken about loving New York.
Granderson's time with the Yankees was a major disappointment outside of 2011, the only season his OBP was above .324 in his stay with the Yankees.  In 2010 Granderson struggled at the plate, with a BA/OBP/OPS of .247/.324/.792.  Granderson's 2011 season was the high point of his Yankee career, a season in which he hit 41 HR's while driving in 119 runs and posting splits of .262/.364/.916.   While Granderson did post 43 HR's and 106 RBI's in 2012, his splits plunged to .232/.319/.811.  Granderson was virtually non-existent after July in 2012, going 41-200(.205) from August 1st until the end of the 2012 regular season.  For an encore in 2012, Granderson went a disastrous 3-30(.100) in the postseason with one RBI coming on a solo HR.
Granderson's 2013 may have been compromised by injury disruptions to his season but it is important to note that he was healthy in the 71 games that he did appear in on his way to 7 HR's and splits of .229/.317/.724.   Including his 2012 postseason statistics, Granderson has gone 93-444(.210) since August 1st of 2012 with only 23 home runs and 63 RBI's.  That's no small sample folks, that's 444 at-bats.
Granderson's fielding is average at best and references to his "speed" puzzling. In Granderson's four seasons as a Yankee career he stole only 55 bases and was caught stealing 17 times for only a 67% success rate.
Curtis Granderson had some great moments as a Yankee but Curtis Granderson was not great as a Yankee.
The Yankees have quite a few pressing needs and spending in the area of 52 million dollars on a four-year deal for a player with recent injury issues about to turn 33 years old with a  declining bat simply isn't rational. 
Appreciation for Granderson's great moments as a Yankee along with his great acts off the field is certainly in order for Yankee fans, but it's time to say goodbye to Curtis.

Great Talent Comes From The Later Rounds Too

I have heard a lot of people say they don't want a player that will cost the Yankees a draft pick, as they want to see the team strengthen their farm system. My normal response to such a comment is that it's more important for the big league club to win. Basically, if winning at the big league level means a weaker farm system... so be it.

"I'm trying to win, and this guy doesn't care."

However, the St. Louis Cardinals can tell you how nice it is to have so much talent 'in house". So while I care more about winning at the big league level now, I don't want the minor leagues to be bare of talent. And that is where the misconception comes in... you don't need to have high draft picks in order to build a good farm system.

Take those St. Louis Cardinals. If it wasn't for having so much young talent to step up this year, then they probably would have missed out on the postseason entirely instead of making it to the World Series. Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, and Trevor Rosenthal all played key roles with the 2013 Cardinals. Craig was taken in the 8th round of the 2006 draft, Carpenter was taken in the 13th round of the 2009 draft, Rosenthal was taken in the 21st round of the 2009 draft, and Adams was chosen in the 23rd round of the 2009 draft. That tells us two things... 1) the Cardinals had an amazing 2009 draft, and 2) you don't need high draft picks to get good MLB players.

But what about outside of the Cardinals? Maybe the Cardinals are just that good, and we can't assume the Yankees or anybody else could pick players that well. Well, then, consider the fact that six All Stars for last season were drafted in the 5th round or later (Chris Davis in the 5th, Ben Zobrist in the 6th, Paul Goldschmidt in the 8th, Edwin Encarnacion in the 9th, Domonic Brown and Jose Bautista in the 20th).

Since 2000 two players that have won the Most Valuable Player award in the National League were taken in later rounds. Ryan Howard was drafted in the 5th round in 2001 by the Philadelphia Phillies, and Jeff Kent was drafted in the 20th round in 1989 by the Toronto Blue Jays).

One last bit of proof that it doesn't take a high draft pick to get a good or great player...

Brandon Webb won the Cy Young award in 2006, and was drafted in the 8th round of the 2000 draft. Jake Peavy won the Cy Young award in 2007, and was taken in the 15th round of the 1999 draft.

While it's true that a lot of today's elite players were either early round picks or international free agents, a team doesn't have to have a bunch of high draft picks to build a good or great farm system. Perhaps some people's desire to see the Yankees hold onto their early draft picks is a lack of confidence in the team's ability to develop young players. But keep another thing in mind...

The Yankees don't need a ton of elite players to come up through the minors. Developing role players such as Brett Gardner, or solid starters like Ivan Nova, to go along with the team's ability to afford elite players from free agency, should be more than enough for them to compete year in and year out.

So if you don't want the Yankees to go after certain free agents because you don't believe they are worth the money, or simply aren't good, then I understand. But telling me they shouldn't go after a "Carlos Beltran" or somebody else since it will cost them a draft pick will not get over with me.

Like how sour cream will not get over with me.

Tigers Open To Trading Scherzer Or Porcello

The Detroit Tigers came out yesterday and announced that they would be willing to trade one of their starting pitchers this offseason, namely probably 2013 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello. Should the Yankees be interested in either of these guys? In a word, hell to the yes!

First off Scherzer is going to be way too expensive so do not get your hopes up. He also makes little sense to us for the same reason that the Tigers would be willing to trade him, he is a free agent after the 2014 season and seems unlikely to get a deal hammered out before then. Scherzer pitched a career high  214.1 IP in his age 29 season while compiling a 21-3 record with a 2.90 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 6.7 WAR, and a league leading 0.970 WHIP in 2013. Scherzer came relatively cheap in 2013 with a $6,725,000 but MLBTR expects his salary to double to $13,600,000 in 2014 in his final season of arbitration. I said all that to say this the Detroit Tigers are going to want the absolute world and then some for Scherzer and we just do not have the pieces to fit unfortunately, or maybe it's fortunately with his impending free agency.

Porcello is best known for tackling Kevin Youkilis to the ground like a rag doll little... well you get the picture. Porcello is definitely worth looking at depending on the price because he turns only 25 years old in December and is coming off of a 13-8 record with a 4.32 ERA in 177 innings of work. Porcello is also only in his 3rd year of arbitration so he will be under team control for this season and next with the team that potentially acquires him. Porcello misses enough bats, 7.2 batters per nine in 2013, and is still on the high side of acceptable when it comes to walk, 2.1 batters per nine, to survive in New York at the back end of the rotation. 2013 was probably Porcello's best statistical season and I think it is only up from here for the right handed pitcher. Porcello made $5,100,000 in 2013 and is expected to receive at least a couple million dollar raise in 2014 which makes him still affordable for the Yankees as well as makes us younger, better, and more flexible for not only this season but next as well. The asking price for Porcello may be higher then we are expecting or wanting to pay but if it's close I think we need to go ahead and pull the trigger on this. His stats may not be sexy now but they will in a season or two and I would rather them be with us and not against us.

Take notice Brian Cashman.

Yankees Sign Antoan Richardson To Minor League Deal

The New York Yankees have made their first official signing of the free agency frenzy when they signed Antoan Richardson to a minor league deal. Not a big deal obviously but you have to get that first one out of the way, gotta crawl before you can walk. FYI for you guys chomping at the bit free agency had not opened when we signed Derek Jeter. Richardson gets an invite to Spring Training this year along with his deal and will compete for one of the outfield spots that are said to be up for grabs.

Richardson in 30 years old, a speedy base stealer, a switch hitter, and has had some major league experience with the Atlanta Braves working for him. He boats a career .381 on base percentage in AAA so that never hurt either. This is just a depth move I am sure but it never hurts to have too much of that, see 2013 for example.

This Day In New York Yankees History 11/12

On this day in 1958 Yankees reigning World Series MVP Bob Turley wins the American League Cy Young award. Warren Spahn would take second place by one vote with Milwaukee this season. Turley posted a 2.97 ERA with a 21-7 record with the Yankees while winning two games in the World Series.

 Interesting side note is that I actually met Turley one time in Blue Ridge, Georgia when I was working for a construction/residential cleaning crew. We went in and did a clean at his house after he remodeled his basement. I did not originally know who he was, all his memorabilia and such was not up since the basement was being remodeled, until I went to pick up a check from him after the fact. I only spent five minutes tops with him and honestly I did not know who he was when he told me, all I knew was that he played for the Yankees. I shook his hand and never got the chance to speak with him again before he died in March of this year.

On this day in 1996 Mariano Rivera probably cost Andy Pettitte a Cy Young Award after the Blue Jays Pat Hentgen wins the award. Hentgen would get a total of 110 points while Pettitte garnered 104 points in the vote. Mariano Rivera finished in third place including one first place vote that, if it had gone to Pettitte, would have made the difference in the award coming home to the Bronx. We'll take the World Series ring and settle I guess.